31 December 2005

Albums I'd take with me on a three hour tour

Okay, I'm baited. I've got to chime in with my own 'desert island discs' list. And no, I will not fudge and include any box sets. Can't say I won't be tempted, tho'.....

Disclaimer: all this is null and void if my stint on said island is not shared by a Professor. I know a little bit about electronics, but I'm totally lost when faced with the task of keeping a CD player going with coconuts and bamboo after the batteries give out (something tells me I won't be seeing a pink rabbit percussionist; they aren't too good at walking on water).

1) STEELY DAN / The Royal Scam
I could go with Gold, as Nettiemac did. But I couldn't do without "Scam." The title track alone gives it the keys to my 10-disc kingdom. Runner-ups: Aja, Countdown to Ecstasy.

2) THE MOODY BLUES / To Our Children's Children's Children
I'd rather cart the entire 1968-72 output of the Magnificent Moodies with me, but that would be breaking the rules (@#$% stupid rackin-frackin' rules....). So much as I love On the Threshold of a Dream enough to bring it, I cannot do without Children's. From the intensity of "Higher and Higher" to the eternal hope of "Eternity Road" to ..... wow .... the aching, lump-in-the-throat longing of "Watching and Waiting", it's a perfect Moody Blues record. Well, maybe not perfect -- if "Have You Heard (Part I)/The Voyage/Have You Heard (Part II)" could migrate over from Threshold, I wouldn't complain a bit.

Critics might hate them as being too pretentious and full of pseudo-intellectual "recitings", but I care not. The song in my heart is forever accompanied by a mellotron.

3) RUSH / Signals
A different style than the previous Rush albums; they were exploring synthesizers and obsessions with technology -- two of the albums' cuts, after all, are "The Analog Kid" and "Digital Man." The 'hit single' from Signals was "New World Man", but I vote "Subdivisions" as my favorite track. This album was a big part of my senior year life's soundtrack.

4) DONALD FAGEN / The Nightfly
Another senior year must-have. When Fagen broke with Walt Becker after Steely Dan's last studio LP, Gaucho, he went on to put together a marvelous concept album about a kid growing up in a northeast suburb in the late '50s. "I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)" was the hit single from Nightfly, and got airplay late in 1982, but my favorite track -- okay, tracks -- is a tossup between "Walk Between the Raindrops" and "New Frontier." "Frontier" should've been the big hit.

5) GEORGE HARRISON / All Things Must Pass
6) NEIL YOUNG / Harvest Moon
Two albums which gave me peace during hard times in my life. Even now, with a life much more content and fulfilling than it was a decade back, I still enjoy kicking back and playing these.

7) STEVE ROACH / Quiet Music
Peaceful ambient music for the starry nights. If the radio can't pick up a station running Music From the Hearts of Space, I'll settle for this CD.

8) VAN MORRISON / His Band and the Street Choir
The voice. Say no more. The touch choice here was which Van the Man record to include. Runner-ups: Astral Weeks, Tupelo Honey, Moondance and St. Dominick's Preview.

9) MARVIN GAYE / Anthology
What's an island without a little soul? Give me his duets with the late Tammi Terrell, as well as the "Inner City Blues", "Trouble Man" and "One More Heartache."

10) HARRY CONNICK, JUNIOR / We Are In Love
As proxy for syrup of ipecac if I eat a bum coconut. Also to remind me that there are worse things than being marooned. Even if my companion, a volleyball, is 'the silent type.'

Better yet, how about a "desert island 30 GB iPod"? Please?

Ciao for niao!

--Talmadge "Now what did I do with that flare?" Gleck

25 December 2005

THE SUNDAY 9: Christmas-esque thoughts

Good morning, and Happy Christmas to one and all. Today, THE SUNDAY 9 has no sponsor, as it would be completely tacky to do so on such a day as this. Instead, I'll drop in a PSA for the American Goofy-Red-Thing-That-Looks-Like-a-Telephone-Pole Association: Use those Christmas Seals, give us lots of money otherwise we won't give you no more of those stickers. Stick 'em on envelopes, cards, packages, your dog, your cat, your significant other's nose, or give 'em to any toddler and (s)he'll take care of 'em in nothing flat. Remember -- it's a matter of life and ... (hack!) ... (wheeze!) ... breath?

Today, here are nine thoughts on holiday decorations:
1) Santa Claus was NEVER to be played by a B-list hack as Yukon Cornelius. Folks, I'd rather Charlie-In-The-Box from the "Island of Misfit Toys" be cast as Santa's understudy. Yukon is, shall we say, a bit over-the-top in his personality. I've noticed a lot of those inflatable backlit snowglobes featuring a Santa who looks more like YC than, well, Santa.
2) THOSE @#$%ING WHITE-LIGHT REINDEERS!!! What are you people??!! SHEEP??!!??!! Seraphim and I took a couple of "holiday light tours" of our own. What we saw, above all else, were more of these cheap Sam's Club and/or Wal-Mart special yard reindeer with animated heads. Dozens upon dozens.
Can't we be bloody original fer a change???????
3) Palm trees. Okay, maybe Bethlehem had 'em, but otherwise, in the festive (read: commercial) observance of the Christmas holiday, exactly how do palm trees figure into the overall "North Pole" motif? Several yards I saw, especially around Albany, Ga. (where Seraphim hails from), had lit palm trees among their (many) decorations.
4) Winnie-The-Pooh. "On, Eeyore! On, Piglet! On, Christopher Robin! On, Hunny! On, Tigger!" Several yards I saw this year resembled a 1973 Sears store through the warped lens of a bad acid trip.
5) Sick depictions of violence ... such as Santa holding up a bloody, decapitated doll. Yeah, with the crass commercialism which for some reason was much worse this year, I sometimes wanted to put a display of that nature in our front yard as a statement. But I would never actually do so. You see, what some people forget is what these things do to kids. A four-year-old seeing Santa portrayed in this fashion might scar 'em for life! Young'uns have yet to develop a sense of satire and parody. And Christmas, ya know, is mostly for the kids.
6) Blue lights. Unless you work for Kmart and are making a show of support for your ailing company, kindly remember that the prime colors of Christmas are RED and GREEN. Exception to foregoing: if paired with the colours red and white, thus making a patriotic theme for your Christmas display. Or if paired with silver, and you're Jewish.
7) Chase-sequence light patterns are to be used sparingly. Put them on all house trim and all fence-tops, and I'll be writing you to request tickets to be in the audience of the game show you obviously run from your front yard.
8) A little color again. Please? White seemed to be the 'in' thing to use for holiday decorations. The icicle lights were all the rage. However, as with all 'crazes', they eventually get old. It's time to bring back the colored lights. My favorites are single-color light strands mixed together, such as alternating stretches of red and green. But even the multi-colored lights are beginning to look better than the same ol' white stuff.
9) Nativity scenes. I'll end this on a positive note. Most all of the nativities I've seen this year have been very tastefully done. Some backlit figures, but also some illuminated with flood lights. I'm glad to see those; they illustrate what Christmas really means. I have the highest respect for those displays which feature little more than a nicely-done nativity.

So there you have it. It's past 11:00 p.m. on Christmas night, and I had to get all that off my chest. Maybe next year things will be more reasonable -- less of that stupid "attack on Christmas" nonsense and the excessive, crass and grotesque commercialism and cheapening of Christmas which we've seen in 2005.

Merry Christmas to you and yours from the Gleck family.

Ciao for niao.

22 December 2005

It's not whether we won or lost....

...it's that we got to play the game in the first place!

Arkansas State University played Southern Miss last night in the NEW ORLEANS BOWL (played, weirdly enough, in LaFayette, La.), but came up short ... the final score was Southern Miss 31, ASU 19.

This marked the first time the ASU Indians made it to a bowl game since Bolivar was living in a battered trailer behind the Jami-Bee Motel, and I was living on-campus in a building which we affectionately called Twin Toilets. Dunno if that referred to the smell, or the fact that at any one time only two commodes functioned properly....

Anyhoo, yes it's been that long. The Tribe made it this year, with its second winning season since I graduated 18 years ago this month.

Yeah, I hate that we lost, but I'm not too upset about it. We made it. We freakin' made it. And that counts for a lot.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Indian Joe decal still pasted on his heart" Gleck

21 December 2005

Oh, Gosh - I'm gonna burn in heck!

Which, of course, evokes images of the Dilbert "heck satan" character, who carries a large spoon instead of a trident.

This past weekend, the Gleck clan again visited the lovely and depressing environs of Troy, Alabama. Christmas proper this year will be spent with Seraphim's family, but the Gleck family [snap! snap!] celebrated the other day.

Saturday we had "Christmas Dinner." We were all seated around the table -- Papa Gleck, Mama Gleck, Talmadge, Seraphim and Tiger Gleck ... and brother, his wife and two little girls. Our oldest niece (age 4) said something to the effect of "Oh my gosh!" .... only to be scolded by her mother.

Seems the word GOSH is considered offensive and blasphemy in The Other Gleck Household. To each their own, but I'd never heard such a thing. My son Tiger chimed in with something he claimed to have read about in literature class -- that the word "G(BLEEP)h" is not the 'safe substitute' many think; that "G(BLEEP)h" is a euphemism for "the holy ghost" (and no, Tiger doesn't buy it) My gos--er, ah, I mean, my WORD. No, wait, "Word" is short for "Word of God", a/k/a The Holy Bible. That's probably blasphemous too.

But what about "gawrsh"? That's what Goofy says. It's a variation of the word "g(BLEEP)h" .... so I guess we should be organizing a full-tilt boycott of Goofy. Burn him in effigy. Pluto, too. Heck (I'm sure that's probably a bad word somehow, too), let's burn all dogs. "Dog" spelled backwards is "God." And that's a subliminal blasphemy. Kill them all. And their little ... um, bones.

[Puddy, you don't have to cower. Don't you know sarcasm when you read it? :-)]

The word G(BLEEP)H, of course, caused my mind to visit what will become (if it isn't already) one of the all-time classics of cinema: Napoleon Dynamite. And, given the LDS overtones in that movie (filmed in and takes place in lower Idaho) and the Mormons' conscientious avoidance of cussing in general, if he says "G(BLEEP)h!" as often as he does in that flick, certainly it isn't THAT bad.

So ... what do you think? Will usage of the word "GOSH" cause one to enter The Alternate Kingdom?

As you can see, I'm really worried. [rolls eyes]

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Wonder what would happen if I bought my niece a pair of Osh Kosh B'g(BLEEP)h overalls?" Gleck

18 December 2005

THE SUNDAY 9: Chains that couldn't

You're watching GLECKNET, viewed by over 2 households in the greater Flyspeck area. Stay tuned for THE SUNDAY 9, next over most of this same blog.

Hi, I'm Talmadge, and TS9 is being brought to you this week by American Motors, makers of such babe-magnet vehicles as the Gremlin and -- for those who are exhibitionist in practice -- the Pacer: 1 part steel chassis, 9 parts glass. AMC, for those who like being made fun of.

I've been in a very reflective, nostalgic mood today, after a dream I had this morning involving my late grandfather -- he and I were making a trip somewhere, and we stopped at a Holiday Inn for the night ... a Holiday Inn as it looked circa 1971, with the neon masterpiece pulsating outside (the old Holiday Inn sign - which can be seen at the beginning of the "Murph & The Magic Tones" scene in The Blues Brothers - had a name: The Great Sign). I woke up as I was saying good night to "Big John." Talk about a melancholy way to wake up!

Tonight, inspired by that dream, as well as some recent thoughts and ponderings, I'd like to devote a little attention to nine (9) now-defunct chains. These are franchised and/or company-owned bidnesses who made honorable, and sometimes not-so-honorable, attempts at competing in various retail sectors: motels, restaurants, fast-food, etc.

There are many reasons for a business' demise, and not all are Darwinist. Sometimes a business can fall under the umbrella of a conglomerate that mismanages or neglects their newly-bought concern. Or another, more dominant, chain moves in next door with the express intent of running the good, established chain out of business ... less "may the better player win" and more "shoot out the legs of the runner in front of you."

Here goes:

1) BURGER CHEF
If you're over 35, this name should ring a bell; for much of the '60s and even into the '70s, Burger Chef was the second largest hamburger chain in America. But in 1968, the founder's company sold the corporation to General Foods. That company did very well for themselves selling packaged foods like Tang, Maxwell House, Post cereals, and many others. Unfortuately, that expertise did not extend to restaurant management. Burger Chef began wilting under GF mismanagement, giving Burger King and Wendy's an open road. Eventually the chain was sold to Hardee's, which gradually killed the name as it converted BC locations into Hardee's.

Burger Chef, I must add, was the first hamburger chain to begin offering kids' meals with the toy surprise. Theirs was called "The Funmeal", and it began around 1974, a good half-decade before Mickey D's launched the "Happy Meal."

2) BIFF-BURGER
Yes, that was the name of a hamburger chain, founded in the late '50s in Florida. There were eventually close to 1,000 (!) outlets by the early '60s. BIFF stood for (B)est (I)n (F)ast (F)ood, and their stock-in-trade was "Roto-Broiled Burgers." I stumbled on a fantastic tribute site a week or so ago. When I first saw it, it was quite the "OH WOW!" moment -- it answered a BIG question I'd had for years. There's an old, painted-over sign and building in Montgomery, Ala. I'd always wondered about. The architecture screamed "1960s hamburger joint!" Well, now I know.

3) HEAP BIG BEEF
What a name! And what a building! Another question answered; there's a building on the north side of Columbus, Ga. which bears a strong resemblence to the style of building featured in the 1967 advert (1960s chain architecture is a big fascination of mine). HBB tried to compete with Arby's and Roy Rogers in the roast beef sandwich category.

4) DANVER'S
Another Little-Roast-Beef-Chain-That-Couldn't. Used to boast hundreds of stores in the Mid-South region, but is now down to a handful, mostly in its former base of Memphis. There's still one going strong in Tupelo, Miss., and it's truly the best roast beef sandwich on this Earth. Makes Arby's look and taste like processed Oscar Mayer. So help me Danver's roast beef damn near melts in your mouth. Mmmmmmm..........................

5) LUM'S
More or less a "Ruby Tuesday's" of its day, it was a casual sit-down restaurant famous for its so-called "hot dogs steamed in beer." In its heyday, Lum's had hundreds of locations around the country. All but disappeared by the late '70s, but one remains on the Virginia side of suburban Washington D.C. Talk about a double-take when we passed that while on a trip up there in '03.

6) OLD COUNTRY BUFFET
I'm a sucker for all-you-can-eat restaurants. Especially AYCE outfits which have their own recipe of fried chicken, among the best I've had anywhere. OCB is based in Minnesota, and used to be all over the Southeast before bailing out in the late '90s. Today, there are a few in suburban Washington, and yes we ate there when Seraphim and I were visiting. Golden Corral can come close, ditto for Ryan's. None of 'em could beat OCB.

There used to be one in Charleston, S.C. as recently as 2003. A couple of times we made the trip just to eat there. It was gone as of early '05. I miss OCB.

7) CONGRESS INN
This was a somewhat sizeable motel chain in the 1960s and early 1970s. There was one on the main drag in Huntsville, Ala., where I lived early in life, as well as down the street from the motel we used to frequent on Summer trips to Sarasota, Fla. once upon a time. As a young'un, their sign intrigued me - a very patriotic and all-American motif, with the U.S. Capitol dome top center. The sign in Huntsville was H-U-G-E, too.

Today, the name lives on through several individually-owned properties. A specimen of the classic sign is here -- and prepare yourself for a sleepless night and/or an idle day if roadside Americana makes your heart skip beats as it does mine.

8) WAYFARA
I have no earthly idea what exactly this was (a motel and/or restaurant? A Stuckey's-like outfit?), but it was in Florida in the '60s and '70s, and at least every other exit on I-75 north of Tampa had one. What I remember are the huge, tall, orange bow-tie shaped signs they had. When I saw Wayfaras, I knew Sarasota wasn't much further!!

9) J. J. NEWBERRY COMPANY
Know what I miss more than anything else? The VARIETY STORE! Birmingham used to have a humongous Newberry's store downtown, and another good-sized operation in the near-abandoned Eastwood Mall. Both had lunch counters that could hold their own in the quick-service food category (ditto for the 'luncheonettes' found in most Woolworth and Kress stores -- now there are two more 'dead chain' names fer ya!). And you could find just about anything in these stores. Oh, and their toy departments outclassed that big-box conglomerate with the stupid-looking giraffe and backward "R."

Other so-called "dime stores" were Ben Franklin, McCrory's, TG&Y (Toys, Guns and Yo-Yos), W. T. Grant, V. J. Elmore, and many, many others. Heck, I'll bet the old Arkansas dime store chain Walton's 5-10 (the forerunner of Wal-Mart) was a fun place to go once upon a time.

Wal-Mart has taken the fun out of shopping. And the only remaining players in the 'variety' genre are Fred's and Dollar General, both as exciting as paying your water bill.

*********

And, on that note, I'm off to bed. It's been a long day!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "A DeLorean and a flux capacitor, please" Gleck

16 December 2005

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15 December 2005

Summer Memories '81

Tonight, come with me back in time, to the week of July 5-11, 1981. It was my first summer with a driver’s license, and I had the immense thrill of being in a car, often by myself, with complete control of the most important component in that automobile: the radio.

1981 was a mixed bag of music. The post-disco hangover was still looming, country acts were all over the place like roaches on a filthy kitchen countertop (Urban Cowboy, after all, was the movie hit of the previous year), but there were a few roses amidst the thorns. Let’s take a look at some of what Casey Kasem played on American Top 40 this nice Summer week in ‘81:

40) TWO HEARTS / Stephanie Mills & Teddy Pendergrass
A marvelous, underrated R&B single. But I never got to hear it much. At the time, I was living in Cape Girardeau, Mo., probably the whitest radio market in America – the top-40 stations were (and I can only trust still are) very skittish about adding black records. To a small extent, I didn’t mind; my tastes largely leaned toward the Midwest “arena rock” very popular in the area at that time, and my years in southeast Missouri (1978-82) turned me into a lifelong classic rock ‘n’ roller.

But I still had my love of ‘70s soul honed and developed thanks to Johnny Weber, overnight soul jock at dysfunctional Tupelo top-40 station WTUP — “The Top Dawg.” That love remained within my Pink Floyd, Beatles, and Blue Oyster Cult-centric music diet ... so hearing “Two Hearts” was a refreshing change of pace.

And it took an early August weekend in Tupelo before I heard "Two Hearts" for the first time — on WTUP, no less.

38) DOUBLE DUTCH BUS / Frankie Smith
Oh shizzit, Cape radio didn’t let this 45 past the lobby, either. For some twisted reason, I like it. I avehay onay deaiay hyway.

37) URGENT / Foreigner
The first single release from their album entitled 4, one of my top “high school memories” LPs. “Juke Box Hero” alone takes me back, although I could do without “Waiting for a Girl Like You.”

Remember the cover? That thing is known as an "academy leader countdown."

36) I LOVE YOU / Climax Blues Band
Sweet, with occasional gusts to saccharine. In other words, it's going for the Sweet 'n' Low packets. Word to Seraphim: If ever a man had it all / It would have to be me / And ooooooooooh, I love youuuuuuuuu!

34) A LIFE OF ILLUSION / Joe Walsh
One of Walsh's coolest songs. Truly an unappreciated masterpiece, probably even better than his 1978 classic “Life’s Been Good.”

33) IN THE AIR TONIGHT / Phil Collins
I can no longer hear this song without picturing the ‘bumper’ on VH-1 Classic, with the teenager in his bedroom listening to it on a small tape recorder, sitting on his bed, drumsticks in hand, with throw pillows in front of him ... just waiting for that orgasmic drum crescendo!

32) THERE'S NO GETTING OVER ME / Ronnie Milsap
31) IT'S NOW OR NEVER / John Schneider
1981 meant one thing: buttloads of COUNTRY CROSSOVERS! [cue “horror screams”]. There were a total of SEVEN on this list, alone. 1981 also meant a trashing of the 1960 Elvis workhorse by none other than Bo Duke. Why didn’t Luke roll up Bo’s window on the General Lee ... oh never mind, I’ve been watching too much Family Guy.

30) STRONGER THAN BEFORE / Carol Bayer Sager
A forgotten song. Very sweet uptempo ballad about a desperate woman trying to win back her man. Please take me back, I’ll do anything for you. You’re the light inside of me, I’ll take you anywhere you ever want to be.

Until you DO take me back, then I'll start treating you like whale vomit again. C'mon, Charlie Brown, I'm holding the football........

29) DON'T LET HIM GO / REO Speedwagon
Hi-Infidelity was another staple of the high school album shelf. Whenever I hear R-E-O’s last single, “Take it on the Run”, I still think back to cruising Broadway with girlfriend Paula, her head on my shoulder and legs hanging out the passenger window. “Don’t Let Him Go”, however, takes me back to one of the high school hubs: the skating rink!

Never mind that I couldn’t skate worth a couple dozen craps.

28) THE STROKE / Billy Squier
Two words: yeah, baby!! Of this list, it’s far and away my favorite. First time I heard it was in June, weeks before its debut on the top 40. I was on the way to picking up my younger brother from baseball practice (I don’t know who was happier to see me get a driver’s license – myself or Mom!).

The radio was on KYMO in nearby East Prairie, Mo. That little 500-watt AM coffeepot was a kick-ass rocker back in the day. And on the way to Capaha Park early that Summer evening, KYMO dropped the needle on “The Stroke.” And hearing it through the station's well-engineered highly compressed audio, it sounded beautiful. I damn hear had a Stroke. :-)

27) TOUCH ME WHEN WE'RE DANCING / The Carpenters
Casey went straight from Squier into The Carpenters. No commercial, no buffer, no nothing. Pugsley Addams couldn’t have fashioned a more spectacular train wreck.

Never mind that Karen’s request here is more than ludicrous; how could you touch her when you couldn’t bloody see her. “Now, Karen, don’t be shy. Come out from behind that fencepost.”

25) FOOL IN LOVE WITH YOU / Jim Photoglo
With a last name like that, I’d have considered marrying a woman named Jones or Smith and taking hers. I don’t think “Fool” got much higher than this. Which, no doubt, is why Delilah doesn’t go near it. From the record label to the milk carton — I think Mr. Photoglo is still playing this song in the lounge of that Congress Inn which closed about 20 years ago.

23) WHAT ARE WE DOING IN LOVE? / Kenny Rogers & Dottie West
Kenny, the roaster’s beeping — your chicken’s done and the customers are waiting. What are you doing still recording songs. I’ll just drop into your restaurant and see what condition your chicken’s conditions are in. Yeah. Yeah. Oh yeah.

22) IS IT YOU / Lee Ritenour
A couple steps’ removed from Easy Listening Hell. It would be a jerky segue going into something more hard-rocking, like The Carpenters.

21) QUEEN OF HEARTS / Juice Newton
Wiz, my friend and partner-in-crime back in Cape, did a funny parody of this song with his younger brother, both singing off-key, “Playing With the Five of Diamonds.”

I’ll take the joker instead ... and go off the board for Famous Stupid Country Crossover Hits, Jack.

20) TIME / Alan Parsons Project
First time I heard this record, I was headed back to school from a dermatologist appointment where he sprayed liquid nitrogen on a couple of warts I had on my hand. As I thought, “this is a nice song, quite different from ‘Games People Play’”, I was shaking and flapping my hand all around, because brother that nitrogen hurt like the much-fabled “maternal fornicator.”

19) MODERN GIRL / Sheena Easton
“Na, na, na-na-na, she’s a modern girl.” Guess she was now above taking morning trains, but was still not ready to allow her man to venture into her suga— ummm, anyway, moving right along...

18) WINNING / Santana
I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. I’m winning. Who needs to Google lyrics when you have ol’ Talmadge?

14) AMERICA / Neil Diamond
File under “Lee Greenwood” Now trotted out every Fourth of July, or other occasions when a right-winger wants to say “America stands for freedom, but all people who disagree with me and my president should be beat up, jailed and deported.”

13) HEARTS / Marty Balin
Why, isn’t that Grace Slick over there in the corner just laughing her ass off?

10) SLOW HAND / The Pointer Sisters
Just jam it in, then move around faster than you can say Neutron Dance.

9) I DON'T NEED YOU / Kenny Rogers
...or your stupid chicken.

8) BELIEVE IT OR NOT / Joey Scarbury
I can’t stand this song. The TV show wasn’t much to write home about, either. Guy in superhero costume who loses the manual and f(BLEEP)ks up the landings. It was funny the first couple of episodes. Then it got really old fast.

7) MEDLEY / Stars on 45
The record that started all those (BLEEP)damned medleys. “Hooked on Swing”, “Hooked on The Classics”, “Hooked on Country”, “Hooked on Phonics”, “Hooked on Blogs”, “Hooked on Talmadge Stretching a Joke Too Far”

I used to like bumping the turntable up a notch ... “The stars on 78, gee whiz aren’t they great....” Ahhhhh, youth!

6) ELVIRA / The Oak Ridge Boys
With whatzisname, whose bass voice makes Barry White sound like Frankie Valli.

4) JESSIE'S GIRL / Rick Springfield
I’m not gonna diss on Rick. The couch isn’t too comfy to sleep on.

3) THE ONE THAT YOU LOVE / Air Supply
Delilah probably keeps her “personal massage assistant” handy when she plays it. Yeah, both this record AND your little steely dan.

2) ALL THOSE YEARS AGO / George Harrison
Rumor had it that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, both uncredited, helped out. I’m sure it didn’t exactly hinder it being a smash. A nice record which brings back a sweet pocket of time on my life's travels.

And, for the eighth straight week, the #1 hit was:

BETTE DAVIS EYES / Kim Carnes

Way overplayed in its day, but let’s be serious – one could do MUCH worse in 1981.

Coming soon, a look back at November 1974. This ought to be fun .... maybe?

Ciao for niao.

— Talmadge “Keep your stars on the ground and keep reaching for your feet” Gleck

12 December 2005

Tis the season!

Last Tuesday, bad news came in twos. First, my co-worker had her purse stolen from the front seat of her car ... in her driveway (!!) ... while she made the first of two trips into her house with grocery sacks. This teenage punk, no doubt, had 'cased' her house for some time, waiting for the right moment to strike.

It makes me thankful that Seraphim and I fled Savannah proper in favor of a more sedate (and less crime-ridden) life out in Effingham County. At least here in Rincon, when cops pull over speeders on highway 21, there isn't a whole helluva lot of crime going on. Meanwhile, in Savannah the cops are too busy trying to meet seat belt ticket quotas to worry about people getting purses filched and even, recently on the southside, mugged in their own homes.

"Click it or ticket" is of little comfort to those who don't feel safe in their own homes. Oh well, at least the cops get to have those little stickers on their cars so they can be above the laws they ticket us for breaking.

AND SECONDLY, I saw on Nettiemac's blog that on the same day as the above, her brother's workplace was knocked over by an armed thug who apparently had a bomb with him. Yikes!!

I can only hope the police in the Upstate of S.C. give more of a damn about real crime than those down here. My thoughts and prayers are with you, R.M.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Disgusted Citizen" Gleck

11 December 2005

The Sunday 9: It's beginning to look a lot like Satanmas

It's time for another edition of THE SUNDAY 9, brought to you this week by Teetotalers® Eggnog, just in case Carrie Nation is one of your Christmas party guests this year. Axe sold separately.

Allrighty. With it being just two weeks away from Christmas Day, and two radio stations in Savannah aglow with the same 100 @#$%ing burnt-to-a-crisp holiday songs, I would like to cough up a hairball known as TALMADGE GLECK'S CHRISTMAS JUKEBOX FROM HADES.

These are some songs for the Christmas season which deserve to be put in a box and allowed to sit, open, in a back seat at 12:15 p.m. on a clear, sunny day. Wait 'till the vinyl is more shriveled up than over-cooked Cracker Barrel bacon, then take and decorate your Christmas tree with 'em*

* = when it's in the gutter on January 2nd.

Okay. Here we go, in reverse order:

9) DECK THE HALLS / Manheim Steamroller
The first time I heard this, 1986 I believe, it seemed like a creative reworking of a standard we all know and love. Today, after 3,942,819,531 force-feedings while a captive audience at this store or that, it truly grates on my nerves.

Everything Manheim Steamroller does sounds like a friggin' local TV news theme package. AND NOW, NORTH POLE NEWS 9 NIGHTSIDE. WITH ANCHORPERSON SANTA. YUKON CORNELIUS ON SPORTS. AND DOPPLER MAX 9 METEOROLOGIST WEATHER GIRL MRS. CLAUS. I understand Manheim's next album is a collection of holiday favorites entitled Coverage You Can Count On.

8) IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR / Johnny Mathis
Chances are, you've heard it way too many times on your friendly local "adult contemporary" station now playing all holiday music. It's too much and too late ... alas, not "too little." Oh well, two out of three ain't bad (hmmmm, wonder why Meat Loaf hasn't recorded a Christmas song; surely we could throw together enough dregs to make A Very Special Christmas 34)

7) ANY CHRISTMAS SONG COVERED BY HARRY CONNICK, JUNIOR
I completely and unequivocally revile him.

6) A SQUIRRELY CHRISTMAS / Shirley and Squirrely
David Seville meets Mel Blanc. This is why God invented above-ground power lines.

5) SLEIGH RIDE / Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops
Used and abused as a music bed on way too many local radio commercials. I'm surprised RCA didn't have Fiedler dressed up in a Santa outfit on the album cover, flanked by so many adoring cheesecake models that Robert Palmer commented, "What them wimmen need is more makeup."

4) DREIDL, DREIDL, DREIDL / Mel Gibson
Just checking to see if you're paying attention. As you can see, I'm an equal opportunity offender. A "dreidl", I understand, is a Jewish holy instrument trotted out during their Festival of Lights for the kids to enjoy. It functions similar to what us Gentile folk know as a "top." You spin it around and around and around. (And if it doesn't go all the way around at least once, Bob Barker comes out and leads the audience in booing you). What this has to do with Hanukkah is a mystery to me; then again, I'm not of the Jewish persuasion.

First time I heard this song, I thought they were singing "Drano, Drano, Drano." Begging the question of whether Kosher food takes longer to clog a kitchen sink.

3) OVERSTOCK.COM COMMERCIAL SUNG TO THE TUNE OF "JINGLE BELLS"
Oh, oh, oh .... next time that comes on the telly, Seraphim's gonna get mighty pissed off that there's a bullet hole in the middle of our living room Hitachi.

2) I SAW DADDY KISSING SANTA CLAUS / Kip Adotta
Sorta gives a whole new meaning to "Don we now our gay apparel", eh?

1) GRANDMA GOT RUN--
Exactly. Does anyone admit to liking this record?

Didn't think so.

Anyone for Grandma Got Run Over By a Dreidl for Hanukkah?

Oy!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Father Christmas, gimme some money or I'll beat you up!" Gleck

04 December 2005

The Sunday 9: Games People (No Longer) Play

It's THE SUNDAY 9 time once again. This week it's being brought to you by Carnation® brand evaporated cola. It's The Powdered Thing ... just add water, and *presto!* you have instant Coca-Cola®-esque CO2-based refreshment drink. Available also in cherry, diet or milk.

Recently I was ranting (ME? Naaaaaaawwwww ... perish the thought!) about the state of game shows in this country. Today I wish to proffer forth a list of nine old, time-tested and proven game show ideas which I believe, if put on the air today -- as is, without tinkering, except for prizes -- with the right host, supporting people, celebs and timeslot, could become hits. A couple, if presented faithful to the original rules, have the potential to deliver a death blow to Wheel of Fortune, something that should've been done long before I got seriously drunk one night in 1991 and found myself married.

In the words of Jim Lange, "And HEEEEEEEEERE they arrrrrrre!!!!!!"

1) THE $64,000 QUESTION
Who Wants to Worship Regis came close to this concept, but no cigar. Unlike "Millionaire", a contestant chose a single category and answered questions, moving up the scale to the jackpot plateau.

"Question" was among the most popular quiz shows of the '50s, and could do well today with a slight tweaking on the money. In 1955, $64,000 was a buttload of money; today, it would barely pay half the mortgage of most houses!

Bring it back as The $64 MILLION Dollar Question ... or even higher. Heck, shoot for Powerball-style jackpots on a TV game show. Nothing would jumpstart the game show genre like some $300,000,000 winners during prime time.

2) NAME THAT TUNE
A shoo-in, right? Possibly. I can think of only two obstacles: The show requires a live ensemble to play the music. An ensemble who will want to get paid. And we have the music rights. The music barons are, to put it in family-friendly language, a bunch of greedy twats.

Hey, maybe a variation could be tried out: "Name That Download" -- people could buck the music baron twats and try to name songs taken from various 'file-sharing' programs. And sit back to watch the fun as said music baron twats send their lawyer goons to sue every single participant on the show, even kids in the audience.

3) BEAT THE CLOCK
Why this one hasn't been considered for revival is both a mystery and, perhaps, obviously clear. It was perhaps the most 'reality'-style game show on the schedule once upon a time ... and one would think the networks, eager to fill their entire prime time lineups with reality shows and yet another CSI knockoff (watch for CSI: Tiger Ridge, in which cops investigate sex crimes -- it's illegal up there to fornicate someone who isn't related to you), might want to jump on this idea.

Object: People try to complete outlandish stunts within a certain time, as it ticks away on an oversized clock onstage.

Ahhhhh, but there's the problem, I suppose. The original version - nicely hosted by Bud Collier - had fun with contestants, who were making fools of themselves on that stage. Ay, there's the rub: Collier never humiliated 'em. It was always in good, clean fun. You know, the difference between good-natured teasing and outright ridicule. We're now in an age where it's acceptable to belittle ordinary people on national television; worse yet, people actually fall over themselves to get on these shows to be belittled. [sighhhhhh] See earlier comments re "dumbed down America."

Still, I'd love to see a good revival of BTC. Let entire families, kids included, do stunts. And there were literally THOUSANDS of those to be done -- the original show, I kid you not, employed two folks whose sole job duty was to create and test all the stunts we saw.

4) EYE GUESS
Game show aired from 1966-1969 on NBC (they had the coolest game show lineup in the '60s and '70s). Premise was simple: two contestants faced a board of nine numbered squares. At the beginning of each round, the squares would reveal nine different answers. They had 10 seconds to quickly study them before they were again covered. Host Bill Cullen would ask questions and the contestants would try and ring in to answer -- but they couldn't just say it; nooooo, they had to respond with a number they thought contained the correct answer.

Giving the wrong number often made for some humorous possibilities. To wit:
HOST: "Who is the publisher of PLAYBOY magazine?"
CONTESTANT 1: "Number 3"
[Square number 3 opens to reveal "GLORIA STINEM"]


5) THE DATING GAME / THE NEWLYWED GAME
But not in separate form. Combine 'em -- call it The Dating-Wed Game. At first, it follows the basic TDG format: a woman, seated behind a partition, questions three bachelors and has to choose one. But instead of just going off on a trip to Cancun and all the participants smugly blowing that full-body 'kiss' at the end of the show, the two people have to get married instead. Jim Lange's still around; so is Bob Eubanks. Send 'em both to seminary, so they could both perform wedding ceremonies. Right on camera, too.

Why not? If people will willingly eat cockroaches on live TV, certainly a few suckers would love the chance to get married right on the spot. And a year later, do a reunion show to see how many are still married.

There could even be a Tiger Ridge version, involving Family Feud.

6) YOU DON'T SAY!
Very popular game show in the '60s, similar in feel to Password. Two teams - one celebrity and one 'civilian.' The "password" (so to speak - usually a name or place) had to be conveyed through clues pointing not toward the answer, but instead to words which SOUNDED like the answer. Hence, the answer was what "you don't say."

This webpage explains it much better than I can.

Remember Tom Kennedy? YDS was that game which put him on the map. "It's not what you say that counts, it's what YOU DON'T SAY." I loved this show when I was little, and would love to see it return.

7) WHAT'S MY LINE?
Although it would do better to have a different name, as many today would probably sooner think of the Drew Carey-hosted improv show by a similiar name.

The idea was simple: A panel of four tries to guess the unusual occupation of a guest. Toward the end of the show, a big-name person would take part as a "mystery guest", and the panelists all had to don blindfolds. It was easy, elegant ... and could work very well today with the right people.

8) TO TELL THE TRUTH
Another panel game from the same creators as "Line", above. Panel of four attempts to question three people - one real and two imposters, all claiming to be this one person. Monetary awards depended on if the panel were stumped, i.e. none of them cast a vote for the 'real' person.

As with "Line", with the right people it could be a hit. The latest attempt in the late '90s bombed; it's a PANEL game show, not a PAULA game show.

9) CONCENTRATION
Of all these shows, I'm fondest of Concentration. I watched it religiously every morning when I was little, and I was heartbroken when NBC canceled it in 1973 as part of a misguided VP's attempt to bring more "lively" game shows to the schedule. Simply put, Concentration in its original form could still be on the air today, ala The Price is Right.

Forget the poorly-done revival Classic Concentration in the late '80s. It was dumbed down. The original version, as is mostly the case, was better. The concept: Two contestants sit before a 30-square board. You try to match prizes, which then reveal parts of a rebus (picture) puzzle. The one who solved the puzzle won the round.

There are incredibly creative possibilities with rebus puzzles, and after 30+ years of glorified hangman on Wheel of Fortune, I'm sure we could get as much mileage out of a puzzle that actually requires a few MB worth of brain space to solve.

There could be big-money prizes on the board ... after all, only the one who solves the puzzle keeps the prizes. There are pitfalls, too -- the "Take a prize" and "Forfeit a prize" squares could be headaches! (there were a couple of 'gag' prizes on the board as well, and if you matched one you had 'insurance' in case you matched a forfeit).

If Concentration came back, with the original rules (!), it'd be the next big success story. I'd bet money on it, too.

# # #

So there you have it. If you made it this far, go buy yourself a few consolation prizes -- get a home game, several boxes of RICE-A-RONI, and a gift certificate for the SPIEGEL catalog.

Ciao for niao!

--Talmadge "Furnished for promotional consideration" Gleck

03 December 2005

An old friend has come back to visit.

I am sitting here on a Saturday night. It's 918 PM, and I'm listening not to a CD, not to vinyl, and certainly not to FM on the audio stack in this room.

Nope. I'm listening to this old circa-early '60s Zenith AM portable I picked up at an estate sale. It's the only radio that has an AM section good enough to pull in a good distant signal despite all the electronics and computeria in this room.

Forget all the good stereo. I don't want it. I'm listening right now to WABC 770 in New York. Some of you may know that WABC was the major top-40 station in the '60s and '70s. It had some memorable DJs - Dan Ingram, "Cousin" Bruce Morrow, Ron Lundy, and others. Memorable music. And, most of all, memorable jingles!

For four hours tonight, WABC Musicradio is back.

AM faded in the face of FM's rise in the late '70s, and WABC changed formats to talk in May of '82. However, beginning tonight WABC is paying homage to its Musicradio past each Saturday night from 6-10. I was eager to check it out, and am I glad I did. They're doing it right. So very very right.

Okay, now they're playing "My Baby Loves Lovin'" by White Plains - featuring generic "rent-a-lead-singer" Tony Burrows. These songs were meant for AM radio, not FM.

When I was a kid, this pathological radio geek lived for the AM band at night -- WLS 890/Chicago, KAAY 1090/Little Rock, WLAC 1510/Nashville, and .... Musicradio 77 WABC.
The music would fade in and out as the AM skywaves sometimes broke up, but they'd always come back and sound as if the transmitter were next door.

Great crispy Buddah -- goosebump city! "(If You're Ready) Come Go With Me" by the Staple Singers. It's now blasting on my old Zenith radio. Suddenly I'm 11 years old again, listening to my Sears multiband portable radio, and content as can be.

I can't describe it further. I am giddy, I am sad, I am melancholy, I am content, I am so many things right now. How do I feel? I feel as if my grandmother, a woman whom I was closer to than my own parents, a woman who was a rock in times of turbulence growing up ....

Yeah. I almost feel like my grandmother has stopped by and we're having dinner and good conversation together.

All this over ... a radio station??!!

Damn skippy.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "The Most Music, WABC" Gleck

01 December 2005

What this country needs.....

.....is more game shows!

And I don't mean Survivor or the various other reality/games which some have chosen to lump into (read: tarnish) one of the most entertaining TV genres ever: the game show. Not all shows are games, and not all games are game shows.

Okay, you may be saying, "Gleck, there's PRICE IS RIGHT, WHEEL OF FORTUNE and JEOPARDY ... shouldn't that be enough??" My answer, simply enough, is NO, IT'S NOT ENOUGH!! What's more, the three we have now, I feel, might be ruining the game show genre for many years to come!

Wheel of Fortune: I'll go ahead and get it out of the way: CHUCK WOOLERY AND SUSAN STAFFORD WERE BY FAR THE BETTER HOSTS ! ! ! It was a middle-tier game show on NBC from its debut in 1975, and actually flirted with cancellation in the early '80s (after Pat Sajak took over at the end of 1981). Then came the idea of syndicating the show. Paydirt!

I've long since been tired of "Wheel" -- it now exists solely for the entertainment and edification of, quoting from The Late Shift, "women with blue hair who live in trailer parks and go to bed early." It was a very entertaining show for the first, ohhhhhh, 7-10 years. Today they have to come up with these weeeeeird hangman puzzles just to keep it fresh.

And Vanna White, despite being skinnier than Ally McBeal on her fattest day, might've been the looker in 1985, but in 2005 she looks like a botox'ed up poster girl for The Future Carol Channings of America.

Jeopardy!: It's been dumbed down to the point that a lot of the time, I can answer most ever quest--er, I mean, question every answer on the board. Have I gotten that smarter in my advancing age? I don't think so.

I remember how challenging the game was once upon a time ... back when Alex Trebek had a mustache and traces of that old curly-Q hairdo he wore in the '70s, when he read all the answers on the board without the "help" of that so-called "Clue Crew."

And dropping the five-time champion rule was a huge mistake, especially without allowing the second and third place players to keep their winnings (as, it must be noted, was the case with the original 1964-1975 NBC version of Jeopardy, hosted by Art Fleming (RIP), a man who could run rings around Trebek!)

It saddened me when the show decided to throw out the original FINAL JEOPARDY "think" music -- the one single element carried over from the NBC Fleming version (yes, that "think" music dates back to 1964). But noooooo, they had to monkey with history. Couldn't they have learned something from The Price is Right??!!

Jeopardy pretty much lost me during the Ken Jennings reign of terror. I'm sorry, but when I know who's gonna be the champion, and by 10x, 20x or even as many as 30 times what the second-place contestant cops, I'm not that eager to watch the show, ya know? And what was with that cutesy handwriting each day? I didn't root for Ken; I wanted to haul right off and cold-cock that smug face faster than you could say "I wager all $2,399,039 of my winnings for that DAILY DOUBLE on 'Famous Mormon Winners on JEOPARDY', Alex."

Either that, or find one of my old shoes and throw it at the TV faster than you could say "Elvis Presley."

It was obvious, if not clear, to this writer that the producers deliberately 'stacked the deck', directing denser-than-usual contestants away from the Wheel of Fortune queue and over to the Jeopardy auditions. How else, with dumbed-down 'answers', could Ken Jennings scoot that far ahead of those other folks? I simply do not buy into the notion that for 70+ programs, few were able to get their score at least halfway to Ken's going into FINAL JEOPARDY, which meant a guaranteed win, regardless.

I know game shows are highly regulated, a practice dating back to the scandals of the 1950s. Still, there are ways. And as 'dumbed down' as America has gotten, perhaps the producers of J decided the ignorant masses would better respond to one 'big' winner. They couldn't rig the game, but opted for the next best thing.

That's not rain in your area, my friend; those are Art Fleming's tears.

The Price is Right: The show's concept is fresh, and has never gotten stale, despite this version being on the air continously since September 4, 1972. The secret, I sincerely believe, is in all the little "pricing games" played, six per show. Each day completely different games are played within the parameters of the basic show structure. Half the fun in tuning in is wondering which games will show up. Will they do Plinko again? Or will it be that quick (and borrrrinnnnng) "One Right Price"?

TPIR has maintained this longevity with what could be called DATED theme music: the identical recording created by Score Productions for the show's return in 1972 (an original version, hosted by Bill Cullen, aired in the '50s and early '60s). I take great comfort in hearing that theme music; it truly is one of the few - if not only - unchanged elements of television from my childhood.

The house is fine, but the problem with PRICE lays in the host: Bob "Wear a Fur Coat Just To Spite Him" Barker. His years with the show has caused it to become less important than the person hosting it. It's like M*A*S*H in its last years, basically a platform for the leading star's political views.

Things are good for TPIR now. Key word: NOW. Barker is getting on up there in years. He's beginning to look a bit frail, to tell you the truth (wasn't that another game show?) Barker's ego evidently has precluded any grooming of an heir apparent for the show. Instead of valuing the franchise, he wants that show to go down with him.

When Barker kicks the plinko chip, what's gonna happen to PRICE? I get the feeling that said dumbed-down America won't accept another host, and the whole shooting match will spiral downward and be delivered a pink slip by CBS. Resulting in a thought I don't like to ponder: for the first time in daytime TV history, a schedule without a single game show on it.

* * * * * * * *

There are plenty of other game show ideas - OLD concepts - whiich, if executed right, could take this country by storm. And perhaps even knock a body blow to Sajak and Trebek. I'll address those on Sunday.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "You Putz! You passed on the car showcase and now you're stuck with bidding on Showcase #2, with nothing but furniture!" Gleck